7 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships with Donors

Susan E. Mangels, PhD, Senior Vice President of Consulting Services

  • Be consistent with your communication. Have a plan in place to connect with each donor and stick to it!
  • Listen. Make sure that when you meet, the donor does most of the talking! Listen carefully and summarize their thoughts back to them. Make notes. Update their file in the database.
  • Follow through. When you tell a donor that you will send them an answer to their question, be sure to do it. When you say that you will call, be sure to call them.
  • Remember details. Donors have personal interests in your work and nuances in their understandings. It is good to keep those in mind and reference them when talking or writing to donors about your work. For example, if your donor likes a particular author at your nonprofit, be sure to share a personal note each time the author publishes.
  • Know what they value. Discover what your donor values. Is it the number of people served by your organization, the legal cases won, or is it educating a specific group of people about a key issue? Then share with your donor how you are doing the particular thing that he values.
  • Stress benefits. When you share about your organization, share why the work matters and what benefits it creates. For example, if you rehab old houses for low-income residents, share how families with limited means benefit from living in houses in which they can have a better family life and raise children.
  • Communicate as they want to be communicated with. Determine how your donor likes to hear from you. Is it in print, by email or in a personal phone call? Try to use the method that the donor prefers most.

Much of this has to do with thinking strategically. At A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates, we help our clients develop strategic paths to growth and success.

Susan E. Mangels, Ph.D. is the Senior Vice President for Consulting Services at A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates. She can be reached at susan@acfitzgerald.com

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